May 23, 2015

Where we open the dances at the #vintagepledge festival

Hello there.

Today I am showing a vintage dress. When I signed up for the Vintage Pattern Pledge in March, I intended to sew two of my vintage patterns, and use one of my grandma's vintage fabrics. Too bad I did not remember that I already had two vintage makes which needed modifications. So now I am adding these two modifications to my challenge.
One of them is the Sophie French Jacket I used in a theatre play but still needs to be lined to be wearable every day, and the other one is the Burda 22691 dress, version A.

I bought this pattern when my parents came to see me in Toulouse one year ago and we went to the fleamarket. I started the dress soon enough, but discovered that the shoulder strap pattern was missing. At the time my fitting skills were less than zero, so I cut very long straps and started wearing the dress, only to discover that the size was wrong, with too much room in the bust area. So, never used it again.

Today I am presenting you the adjusted version of it. You can clearly see that the fit is far from perfect but at least now I can wear it.

What I did has been to shorten the shoulder straps. This changes the supposed fit from the original pattern, but surely I didn't want to unpick dress and lining and try to save it in another way. So I am ok with that. I take it as a wearable muslin and carry on.

This great fabric also comes from the same fleamarket. It is a lovely cotton, slightly rigid, which goes well with this particular pattern. I also tried to match the print across the 7 (!) panels which compose the pattern, and I am happy with the result. Also, that exposed zipper kills me every single time I see it, but one year ago that was the best I could do.

I am totally in love with the shape of this dress, so unusual for my style. I think I will try and sew more like that, maybe from a pattern which has all the pieces, and maybe experimenting a more drapey fabric.

I've searched all over the internet to date this pattern, but could not find any resources. I am guessing late 1960s, but that is only a humble guess. If you know more, please let me know. 

May 19, 2015

Where crushed velvet becomes an everyday skirt

Hello there.
Last weekend was pretty windy and wild here in Toulouse, so please excuse my weird poses in the pictures while I tried not to eat my hair.
Anyway, windy days were perfect to showcase my new Ilsley skirt, because its stays put no matter how strong the wind gusts.

I will say straight away that I am in love with this skirt. Since I finished it I have been wearing it a lot. Today I put it away because if I see it around on a chair or on the bed, I will wear it again and again. In case you were wondering, I do own other clothes, you know.

In my opinion it is a perfect compromise between comfort and nice details. Look at that hem! And the pocket shaping! 

Also, Marilla Walker has released this pattern for free, but this is one of the cases when free does not mean cheap: the instructions are clear (I just had a look but didn't follow them), the design is not mundane and it is well drafted and everything goes in place smoothly.

I used the crushed velvet coupon I bought at Edinburgh Fabrics for only 4£! I bought it especially for this skirt, to be honest. Anyway, when Chéri saw the fabric started protesting and saying that it could never look good on any garment because it would always look pajamas-y. 
So I decided to dress it up with some faux-leather piping. In my modest opinion, it totally worked and I am in love with the result! Also, he has seen these pictures and lost his words. Score!

I felt a bit delusional at the thought of applying piping to velvet, since I had never used one nor the other before, let alone together or bringing faux-leather into the equation. Anyway, I love myself a little challenge, and I am happy to report that all went well.
The pocket linings and the waistband are in lightweight black cotton residuals from another project, in order to reduce bulk and use up the scraps I can not let go of. 

There will be a next time for sure for this pattern, because thanks to Me Made May I have discovered that I need more everyday garments and especially dresses and skirts. Then we could argue how a velvet could be considered everyday... If you asked me before this skirt, velvet was for princesses sitting on a sofa combing their golden locks. After this skirt, velvet is for everyday garments!
When exposed to direct sunlight, the velvet becomes super shiny, and today I could not look at my skirt without sunglasses. Who cares? As you can clearly see from these pictures I don't. I have been wearing the skirt to go grocery shopping like a princess, and to the dentist. Also princesses have aching wisdom teeth, don't they?

May 14, 2015

Where I have cracked the BHL fitting code with a green Kim dress

Hello there.
Today I am proud to announce that I am making progress in the fitting of my garments. Or at least I think I do. Case in point, look at this Kim dress!

I feel happy every time I wear it!
To understand this happiness, we need to talk about my body. It's incredible how far I have come to know my body shape and size, and to accept it the way it is. Anyway, I still feel a bit ashamed to state that my waist measurement falls in a bigger size than my chest does. There! I've said it. My belly: the feature I have been constantly trying to hide for the last 8 years or so. Large and long tops and so on were my best friends. Not any more. Thanks to sewing I have learned that I can wear a dress with a well defined waist and a hugging bodice, and still feel pretty and happy in it.

Of course this acknowledgement has not been immediate since the first time I have sewn something. For what concerns my experience with By Hand London patterns, I had sewn two Flora dresses, and their size was chosen accordingly to my waist measurement (size 14/18). Wrong!!! In fact, I ended up with shoulder straps longer than necessary, and wrinkles in the underarm, because of the extra room that was not occupied by my ladies.
Since the release of the Kim dress, I have struggled pas mal whether to buy it or not, the main reason being the work I had to do to fit it to my body. Then the girls at BHL announced that they were not printing patterns any more, and I decided I wanted this one. You know what? I am so glad I did! (But sad for the announcement).

This time I used the bust measurement to choose my size (size 12/16), and then proceeded to a 6 cm FBA to accommodate my ladies' fullness: my full bust and upper bust have 10 cm difference. Also, at the end of the FBA you are supposed to reduce the extra width you add at the waist; I didn't, and so I had room for my waist. That's it! 
I truly don't know how orthodox this is, but it worked for me. To be honest, I had a little too much room all over the bodice. I don't know where I was wrong, but I used a larger seam allowance and it worked just fine. I mean, look at the bodice!

I feel like Alice in Wonderland bowing to the Queen

Last construction trick: I don't like to wear full gathered skirts because you know, I have fullness enough around my waist, no need to add more to feel curvy. So I gathered a much much smaller rectangle than suggested, and I am happy with the result. I enjoy a gathered skirt, and this, my friends, has never happened before! 

Now let's talk about this magnificent fabric: a soft cotton gauze coming from an Indian shop I might visit soon again here in Toulouse. The guy has decided to not import fabric any more because it doesn't sell well enough, and so he's having a huge sale on it!. I had 2,5 m for 14€. I like how soft it is, and its drape, and the price, and the fact that the guy forced me to buy more than I asked for because it was the end of the bolt, and so I had fabric enough to use as a self lining for the bodice. 
Also, border print guys! You know I can not resist it!

I don't know what I was doing in the picture before, but I am sharing it anyway. I can go on and on about how beautiful this dress is and how pretty it makes me feel, with the cute sweetheart detail and the simple vaporous skirt. But I won't go on and on because I have annoyed you enough with the technical details and the description of my body. Enough for today. (And you will see another Kim soon). Just one last picture, of a very happy me.

Look ma: I am wearing a fitted bodice!